On 17th December Angela Merkel will take up her place as head of the German government again. She is now supported by a grand coalition which comprises 80% of MPs in the Bundestag. The following day she is coming to Paris in preparation for the European Council on 19th and 20th December. This visit, in line with custom but, allows us to hope the European return of the Franco-German couple.
Since the French Presidential election in May 2012 the couple has suffered from the electoral calendars and alternation. It has suffered the onslaught of a misguided ideology, which to date had never interfered in bilateral relations. It led to an unprecedented politicisation of Franco-German debate which cancelled out its vital contribution to progress in terms of European integration.
Although the form has been more or less respected and both countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty in 2013, and although dialogue has continued between the
administrations of both partner States, no real initiative can be attributed to them for the time being.
The Franco-German motor is ticking over but it is not moving forward!
Political division, domestic political priorities, different situations, deep economic divergence, lack of contact between leaders - all of this has fed a deafening silence that has damaged European integration as a whole.
It is now time for "State duty".
To bring Europe out of the political quagmire into which we have allowed it to fall, to give value at last to its vast economic and human assets and to place them at the service of economic revival, we have no choice but to have real European leadership.
Even if she has been consecrated "Head of Europe", Angela Merkel cannot do this alone. She needs a strong, operational France. She has to be able to count on constant cooperation
with Europe's second most important economy, she needs to feel really close to the country which invented the unification process for the continent and with which Germany has in fact led Europe for the last 63 years.
We therefore have the right to expect both French and German leaders to commit themselves fully to Europe. They cannot just be content with approving convoluted diplomatic compromises
on technical issues, which of course are not insignificant, but which cannot substitute long term plans. Banking Union is important, likewise the governance of the euro zone, but more vital still would be a joint Franco-German vision of the how the Union and its policies should function.
In 2014 all the European institutions will be renewed. France and Germany can and must oblige those who are to represent them to take on a set of precise tasks which will modify institutional
practices, which adapt the way they undertake their policies to economic and social requirements, making them more democratic enabling the acceptation of their decisions. They might also decide to implement a series of new initiatives in terms of taxes, economic policy, social vision, foreign policy. To do this the treaties do not need to be changed. Europe just has to be considered in terms of politics, in other words, built on the will to make it more effecient.
This is what we expect of the Franco-German leaders at the highest level.
With three clear years ahead of them, before any major election, they have time to take risks, to decide and act.
All of Europe is expecting that - starting with its citizens.